Automotive Digital Marketing

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Social Networking Gets More Powerful, and Dealers Still just Point and Stare...

Why is there such a huge disconnect between the power of social
networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the dealer base
perception of that power? Even product resellers get into the game,
saying they or their dealers just don't believe that the social
networking sites have any value. I think the true answer to that
question is straight up fear. Car dealers are no longer the early
adopters when it comes to new technology. They no longer jump onto
things because they have tried, unsuccessfully many many different
tools, and due to the lack of customer support for the companies selling
those products, have become timid in jumping on board with industry
changing ideas. It is time to put the adopter power back in the hands of
the dealers.

The topic caught my eye this morning when I opened my email and began
scouring the latest message from Auto Remartketing, which I use
frequently as topics for status updates on some of my products' Facebook
pages. There, staring at me, was an article about a new Facebook game
that gives car makers a new way to market products and ultimately reach
consumers. (http://tinyurl.com/autoremarketerfacebook) Just a few weeks
ago there were several articles about how the social network site
follower is more valuable than a lead that a dealer is paying $25 each
for (and usually 2 or 3 times for the same lead because the follow up
process is so bad). Folks, the social networking sites continue to be
the focus of countless industry blogs for a reason, the audiences on
Twitter and Facebook are representative of the auto buying public. The
sooner you figure out how to create a presence there, and allot the time
to manage that presence, the less likely you are to being left behind
in the marketing world.

The article today discusses a game called Car Town (I wonder why they
didn't follow the online norm and make it "CarTown," or maybe that is
just me that loves to run names together and capitalize the letters in
the middle - ala UpShift Digital). Car Town can be accessed through
www.cartown.com or www.facebook.com/cartown. Players get virtual cash
for buying and souping up vehicles that range anywhere from vintage cars
to taco trucks (bueno). You get a garage, and you get to race, and if
you have a taco truck, you have to sell tacos. The more consumers
(notice I didn't say PLAYERS, I said CONSUMERS) that play the game, the
more automakers are taking notice and getting involved. For example,
Honda is using the game to promote its new CR-Z sport hybrid before they
launch the model. It is not only Honda, but DeLorean, Dodge, Fisker,
Ford, GM, Lambo, Land Rover, Lotus, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan,
Opel, Ram Truck, Scion, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW that are signed up as
licensing partners. The Honda VP of National Marketing makes a very
important statement when referring to the use of the social networking
game, he says, "Car Town allows Honda to connect with customers at their
point of passion." Honda is smart - they realize they are customers,
and they are going after the "passion." Let that sink it - when does
marketing work best? When the end user is passionate about something.
That is a huge power statement about social networking.

Let's bring this back around to our local dealers and resellers. The
bottom line here is that there is amazing value to be found within
social networking sites and their audiences. The challenge is removing
the stigma that dealers have created about this avenue to reach
customers, and simplify the process to make it successful. One of
dealers' biggest challenges is time - not actually having time - have
you been to a store on Tuesday and see all the Johnny Greenpeas standing
on the point - they have time, but appropriately using their time. That
time would be much more valuable when turned into a social networking
strategy. The two biggest obstacles of using social networking sites
like Twitter and Facebook boil down to using that time to 1) build an
audience of active followers and 2) create a content strategy that
continues to entertain, inform and grow that audience. Once you can
accomplish those two tasks, then it is on to establishing a value
statement for your followers and fans, and working towards the ROI that
will prove to you that those followers are more valuable than the lead
you are going to have to buy 3 times.

Are you interested in getting over that hump? UpShift Digital can help.
For a very low cost, UpShift Digital will work with you to grow both
your audience and create a content strategy that will change your social
networking plan forever. Simply email us at info@upshiftdigital.com
with the subject line "Social Networking Strategy Help" and let us know
how to contact you. We will send you all the information you need to
empower your store at the ground floor.

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